Agile ALM tools have pitfalls to acknowledge

Amy Reichert

Essential Guide

Venders only tell us the benefits of using Agile ALM tools. What are some of the drawbacks?

The single biggest problem is that most Agile ALM tools don't allow the user to modify or configure views to meet one's needs. In other words, they lack the ability to customize the solution for the way each development team implements the Agile methodology.

It's surprising that Agile ALM tools so frequently lack flexibility.

For example, if I use the electronic Kanban feature in a tool, I need to be able to customize the name and location of each of the columns in the board. If I use the tool to write defects, I need to be able to customize the fields and determine whether each one is required or optional to suit my needs. Additionally, I need to be able to create customized reports, because the canned reports provided don't include the level of detail I need to present to management.

Sometimes custom changes are possible, but are too difficult and time-consuming to implement. Or worse, once you get them implemented, the next update overwrites the configuration files and you have to start over.

I believe some tools try to enforce adherence to the exact flavor of Agile rules that they follow or support. I'll go back to my electronic Kanban board example for this one. One tool my company uses doesn't allow us to alter the column order or content. It only lets us add text to list out the rules for moving a task from one column to the next. The same thing happens with the Scrum tool. One can add in descriptive text but is unable to edit or change workflow steps as needed.

The ability to customize features allows businesses to customize their processes to suit their needs. In reality, all parts of any methodology are not universally adopted. Most companies use most but not all of the parts because some simply don't work. Other parts don't pass security or documentation requirements and need to be adjusted. Agile is about flexibility and organizing a release to get it to market faster and with the highest quality possible, so it's surprising that Agile ALM tools so frequently lack flexibility.

View the next item in this Essential Guide: People and process trump tools when it comes to improving software quality or view the full guide: All about Agile and ALM

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